The Toronto Blue Jays have been busy rebuilding their bullpen with Octavio Dotel, Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. With these three legitimate relievers, someone has to be the odd man out in the Jays pen.
Jason Frasor just re-signed. Jesse Carlson is a reliable lefty specialist along with David Purcey (though both have a lot to prove). Shawn Camp, one of the most reliable guys the Jays have had in years, is not going anywhere.
Those six players really don’t have much to worry about this spring.
A few players we feel the hammer coming down because, for once the Jays have a plethora of pitchers widely capable of becoming a starter or reliever. It really depends on what the Jays’ needs are when its time to place that red tag in some poor player's locker.
And yes that’s a “Major League” reference. I could mention Ricky Vaughn and his tantrum after Dorn hazed the youngster, but I’m referring to Gentry, the guy with no lines but has the most dejected look on his face when cut. Classic!
Jesse Litsch and Marc Rzepczynski will battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. The loser heads to the bullpen, maybe?
That leaves one out of the following to make the opening day roster: Casey Janssen, Josh Roenicke, Robert Ray, Jo-Jo Reyes, Chad Cordero or Carlos Villanueva. And don’t forget Canadian Scott Richmond and spot starter Brad Mills, who will stand their ground when the time comes.
Reports out of MLB.com suggest Janssen is the odd man out, which makes a lot of sense. The top five guys in the pen are the best right-handers the Jays have at this moment.
Janssen has paid his dues, appearing in over 160 games in the past four years for the Jays while posting a respectable 4.12 ERA.
Villanueva is the only one who has had an extended period of time in the pros. He has proven that he’s reliable to come out of the pen and give the club 100 plus innings a year, probably meaning mop-up duty when things get out of hand during the season. A 5.34 ERA in a full 2009 season does make you wonder.
Realistically, it will come down to Janssen and Villanueva battling for that final job. I don’t think Litsch, coming off an injury, will make the rotation and has to prove himself before becoming someone to rely on in the later innings. It’s not rocket science when you think about it.
Janssen gives the team the best shot to close the gap between the sixth and seventh innings. In the end, he gives you the opportunity to win.
Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective